Stan Tracey/Evan Parker Suspensions and Anticipations Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

An unexpected collaboration between two of the godfathers of British Jazz...

Martin Longley 2004

On the surface, this seems like an unlikely collaboration; a meeting between the moderately mainstream doyen of British jazz and one of the free improvisation scene's founding fathers. Complicated swing meets rigorously uncompromising abstraction.

But Parker has always been visibly influenced by the powers of the tenor saxophone tradition, and Tracey has a history of open-minded exploration, making albums with Keith Tippett and Mike Osborne back in the early 1970s. In that same decade, Parker used to play in Tracey's Tentacles, and there have been regular reunions at the Appleby Jazz Festival. In 2002, Lol Coxhill's 70th birthday gig at London's 100 Club provided the setting for an inspirational duet which led directly to the recording of this album in the following year. Parker has released it on his own label, a venture whose catalogue is rapidly growing.

The two players have a particular empathy, following a scampering trail as they fill in each other's pauses, answering each other's questions. Altering the speed of attack as they go, Evan and Stan throw ideas at each other from parallel speeding trains. Their agreed approach doesn't disallow spontaneous melody or rhythmic progression, the pair persistently building up great knots of energy.

Parker concentrates on the tenor throughout, tentatively spiking out terrain on "A Nice Slice", his moleskin tone rubbing its nap the wrong way. Tracey hammers stalactite statements on "Nicely Placed", as Parker staggers around, dropping and swooping.

Aside from the duo bouts, there are two solo piano tracks and one saxophone feature. Parker's "New Fork" explores circular territory that he normally negotiates on the soprano horn, making sideline squeaks and tubular honks. The duo exchange exceedingly low rumblings on "Kite", composing on the spot as Parker's expostulations are answered by Tracey's splintered hits and runs. "An ending!" they laugh together, as "Maggot" grinds to a sudden halt. Surely not, as this engaging partnership certainly seems destined to continue...

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